Sleeper agents and microchips. Ex-special forces and catastrophic abort sequences. Sounds thrilling, right? Unfortunately not so much in Dark Asset, starring Hong Kong-American actor Byron Mann, Swedish-American actress Helena Mattsson, and Terminator franchise alumni Robert Patrick. Dark Asset shows what happens when a living weapon attempts to break free from the conspiratorial program and the corrupt captors that once created him. While the initial premise and promisingly dangerous introduction do indeed tease an action-packed ride synonymous with other averagely rated entries in the genre, everything Dark Asset has to offer is instead slowed down when the overall mystery of the movie is introduced.
With the writers of the movie placing their bets on trying to make many pivotal plot beats take place in the past instead of the present, this heavy-handed journey through time feels like a slog through context, rather than focusing on our main hero and what he could do. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Dark Asset and see if there is at least some light at the end of the tunnel for this adrenaline filled action film.
Aiming for a silent but deadly type of persona, Mann’s main character, John Doe, starts the film by breaking out of the laboratory in which he’s held. While this entire sequence is made up of short, hectic fights between Doe and the ensembles of generic guards he encounters, none of these introductory shots come close to weighing the same as the mesmerizing showdowns seen in any of the John Wicks or The Equalizer films that have come out over the years.
One of the saving graces that Dark Asset has to offer though is Byron Mann’s dedication to the Chinese martial art of wushu. Mann has no problem acting, but even more important is his hardened and mastered fighting style that he brings to this movie. As he takes these masked and indiscreet gunmen down, audiences are livened and excited to see what comes next.
An Intense Introduction Slows Down Too Soon
Any initial hype surrounding Dark Asset could be found in its delayed opening theme and the motivational pop rock tune that comes along with it. The mixture of Mann’s physical vengeance with the uplifting and moving tune that follows really sets a tone that the rest of the movie unfortunately does not follow. Once escaping, our main character decides to go to a hotel lounge of all places, where he comes upon Mattsson’s Jane, who is waiting for someone at a table.
Outfitted in a sultry red dress and looking beautiful, it doesn’t take long for John to sit down across from her and incite conversation. All this time, it really seemed as though the plot was revving up to be something thrilling and exciting, but the midpoint happens to be the same place where Dark Asset really puts on the brakes. Honestly, the entire movie could have been John struggling to escape from the laboratory of Dr. Cain (played by Robert Patrick) laboratory in order to gain the freedom he so rightly deserves, but here we are instead. A whirlwind of humdrum level context is about to begin.
Even though she likes his company, Jane does not know who this man is. Besides the explicitly flirtatious motivations, the audience has no inkling behind John’s sudden incentive to this long and drawn out interaction either. For the majority of the second act, our hero tells her about the origin behind the chip in his head and explains to her the other sleeper agents that he knows about — Han, Marena, Bendy, and Ylan. Since she is waiting for her other party, she innocently plays along with Jon, acting curious and asking questions about all that he’s saying.
While the acting is fine and the location resonates an interesting bar type atmosphere, this goes on for far too long and leaves room for the viewer to step outside the suspension of disbelief. Why is he wasting time when he has so much power? Why is she so easily believing in his fantastical stories? These questions are answered within Dark Asset’s science fiction world, but it just takes too long to get there and takes too much of the focus away from the action we all wanted to see.
Coming Back Around to a Satisfying Conclusion
Luckily, the conclusion of Dark Asset bears an action-packed and intrigue-filled finale that has Mann’s fighting all over it. With Cain’s soldiers suddenly on John’s tail and a sudden danger revealing itself, the movie finds itself back in the high speed lane it should have been in this entire time.
Even though there is some distractive finagling with various interconnected MacGuffins at times that don’t mix in too well with John’s personal story, Dark Asset does come out strong with numerous messages about desperate people who want to mean something in this world. To that extent, the film can be kind of a fun watch… for half of its runtime.
Produced by Across The Board Entertainment, Cherokee Music Group and Interdimensional VFX, Dark Asset premieres in theaters, VOD and On Demand starting from September 22nd.